Spring Fever by Talya Tate Boerner
pring fever settled on me much like the cottonwood seeds that covered the schoolyard in a blizzard of white. I felt restless. We all did as we followed our teacher from the elementary school building into the yellow sunlight. We weren’t allowed to talk or run or even dawdle long enough to pick a dandelion growing inches from the sidewalk. I knew, because last month I’d tried. We were having a fire drill. Another fire drill. Sometime after Christmas, I’d lost count of the number we’d had that school year. I couldn’t help but wonder if these recurring fire drills were a sneaky way for our teachers to enjoy a small break from the classroom. I didn’t much blame them. Teachers had a case of spring fever, too, or at least my fifth-grade teacher did. I could see it in her faraway eyes and the way my class spent more time outside on nature walks than inside the pages of our science book. Not that I was complaining, because I wasn’t. As our teacher walked to the designated spot a safe distance from the school, we followed single file, ducks in a row. My friend, Judy, accidentally stepped on the back of my tennis shoe. Pausing for only an instant, I nearly caused a dominolike chain reaction of kids bumping into one another. Judy snickered and so did I. But I continued hobbling, my foot pressing on the back of my shoe until I turned my heel just right, and my shoe slipped back into place. How I wanted to kick off both tennis shoes, shed my bobby socks and turn a cartwheel across the playground. Only yesterday, Mr. Green had cut the grass, riding his lawnmower back and forth outside our classroom window. The soothing hum of the motor nearly put me in a trance, and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open for the remainder of the afternoon. Today, the grass shimmered in a checkerboard pattern, and the thin air still held that just mowed smell. There was no real fire, but I recognized the smell of smoke. The greatest fire threat to our school involved not a grease fire in the cafeteria or an explosion in the junior high science
lab. Keiser Elementary was at greatest risk after harvest when farmers burned their fields, and the sky above our county filled with clouds of smoke and soot. But on a faultless day beneath an endless sky when the farmers were back in the fields working the soil, the only possible hazard imaginable was spring fever. Farmers suffered most from that weakness. We reached the parking lot and joined other classes standing in clumps with their teachers. Everyone stared at the school building as though flames raged over the roof and licked the sky. In all my days, I couldn’t recall a single instance when a school had burned to the ground. Not on the news or in the pages of a book or even in the stories retold by old people when they had five minutes to spare. I would never admit it to anyone, but deep down I worried these fire drills were doing nothing more than testing fate. Like Peter who cried wolf. What good could come of it? Practicing for an emergency seemed pointless. If the real “wolf ” showed up, my heart would clobber my chest from the inside out. I wouldn’t calmly walk to the parking lot while avoiding sidewalk cracks. I would run. We all would. When the fire alarm stopped blaring, our teacher gave the signal, and we walked back across the parking lot toward the school. On each side of the main doors, a vine bursting with pale pink blossoms grew along the wall as though it tried to sneak inside the building. On a less perfect day, the vine would have disappeared into the blandness of the brick. As I passed, I plucked a tiny flower, carried it inside like a baby bird and placed it on the edge of my desk in the slot reserved for a pencil. “Settle down,” our teacher said, as we dropped back into our seats and reopened books with more noise than should be possible. Soon, I returned to diagramming the longest sentences ever strung together. However, this time while I separated subjects from verbs and identified adjectives on diagonally drawn lines, I inhaled spring from the tiny flower perched on the edge of my desk. And everything felt right. Front Porch
ARKANSAS FARM BUREAU • SPRING 2017
Published on Apr 24, 2017
Delivering fresh, locally grown foods to neighborhoods in need; the growing agritourism industry in Arkansas; specialty beef, and much more.